Since time immemorial, food is man’s source of nutrition. Yet, a sad truth is that this same food can also be a cause for man’s ailments.
One of man’s organs vulnerable to diseases is the kidney which serves as his body’s filtering and cleaning mechanism. Of the number of disorders affecting the kidney, stone formation is the most common. A kidney stone, also known as a renal calculus, is a solid crystal aggregation formed in the kidneys from dietary minerals in the urine. The stone can be located in the kidney itself, ureter or bladder. Accordingly, 80% of those with kidney stones are men.
Dietary factors that increase the risk of stone formation include low fluid intake, and high dietary intake of animal protein, sodium, refined sugars, fructose and high fructose corn syrup, oxalate, grapefruit juice, apple juice, and cola drinks.
- Calcium, specifically calcium oxalate, is one of the components of human kidney stones. Studies have reported that people who take supplemental calcium have a higher risk of developing kidney stones. However, high intakes of dietary calcium apparently do not cause formation of kidney stones and may actually protect against their development. This might be due to the role of dietary calcium in binding ingested oxalate in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Besides calcium, other electrolytes can also influence the formation of kidney stones. Among these are fluoride and sodium. On the other hand, some electrolytes like potassium and magnesium can reduce the risk of stone formation as they are inhibitors of urinary crystal formation.
- Excessive intake of animal protein can also cause stone formation. Urinary excretion of excess sulfurous amino acids, uric acid and other acidic metabolites from animal protein acidifies the urine, which consequently promotes formation of kidney stones.
Specifically, the following foods can influence formation of kidney stones:
- swiss chard
- wheat germ
- soybean crackers
- black Indian tea
- sweet potatoes
Foods that have medium amounts of oxalate may be eaten in limited amounts:
- green pepper
- red raspberries
- fruit cake
- canned foods
- frozen meals
- tomato juice
- fast foods
- processed foods